- "The Outcast Dead, a dishonourable name for warriors, but a more fitting one than the last we bore."
- —Sergeant Tagore of the World Eaters
The Outcast Dead were a small group of Renegade Space Marines who belonged to the Traitor Legions and had been part of an Astartes honour guard known as the Crusader Host based on Terra in the days just before the start of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. The Crusader Host was comprised of members drawn from all 18 of the Space Marine Legions. When news of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal of the Emperor of Mankind reached Terra on the frigate Eisenstein, the loyalty of all members of those Legions that had sided with Horus was considered suspect by the warriors of the Legio Custodes. The Custodes imprisoned these Astartes within Khangba Marwu, a vast, underground Imperial prison complex deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains also known as 'The Vault'. After breaking free and rescuing the Astropath Kai Zulane from The Vault and escaping from the prison complex, the Outcast Dead proceeded to fight their way across Terra in an attempt to escape back to their respective Legions. In so doing, they ultimately unleashed the secret within Zulane's mind for which he had been imprisoned and which held the key to the future survival of the Imperium of Man in the wake of the Horus Heresy.
The members of the Outcast Dead were once part of an elite Astartes Honour Guard called the "Crusader Host" stationed on Terra. This unit was composed of representatives from all 18 Legiones Astartes and normally numbered at least 30 members. Although service in the Crusader Host was required on a rotational basis that all of the Legions were required to adhere to, the Host was not required to have a member from each of the Space Marine Legions in its complement. The Crusader Host's main assignment was to act as an honour guard that patrolled the boundaries of the Imperial Palace while acting as representatives at the heart of the Imperial court for their respective Legions. The rotation of Astartes did not happen regularly, as some members of the Crusader Host had been away from their Legions for over 100 standard Terran years.
During the early 31st Millennium, the Emperor's favoured son, the Warmaster Horus, fell to the seductive whispers of Chaos and instigated a galaxy-spanning civil war against the Imperium. Horus pitted Primarch against Primarch and Legion against Legion. When the horrific news of Horus' betrayal reached Terra and the Emperor, the Crusader Host naturally came under suspicion of heresy and treachery. Under the orders of High Custodian Constantin Valdor, the Captain-General of the Legio Custodes, a "hunt team" of Custodes warriors was assembled to bring all the members of the Crusader Host to justice, by force if necessary.
The hunt team sent to arrest the Crusader Host at their barracks, known as the Preceptory, was led by a Seer Hunter named Yagu Nagasena who worked for the Sisters of Silence in seeking out psykers for their Black Ships. Nagasena and his bondsman, Ulis Kartono, a bearer of the anti-psychic Pariah Gene, gathered a force of around 3,000 Imperial Army soldiers under the command of Major Maxim Golovko. The force consisted of Golovko's own Black Sentinels regiment, a regiment of the Attaman Janissaries, Lancers and a squad of Custodians that Golovko thought would be overly sufficient to bring 30 Space Marines to justice. Yet Nagasena remained unsure whether this force would prove to be enough.
Not wishing for any bloodshed, Nagasena and Kartono organised a meeting with Adept Exemptus Atharva of the Thousand Sons Legion, one of the leading Astartes of the Crusader Host. Meeting at the doors of the Preceptory, Atharva made it clear that he and many others of the Crusader Host found it insulting that Nagasena had brought such a small force to apprehend them. Nagasena attempted to reason with Atharva and try to convince him and the Crusader Host that a battle was not necessary, to which Atharva agreed. While stating that he himself would not participate in any of the fighting, Atharva pointed out that the other Space Marines, especially those of the World Eaters Legion, would not go down without a fight. A battle ensued shortly thereafter, claiming the lives of 18 Astartes and hundreds of Imperial Army troops. The remaining 12 Astartes of the Crusader Host's suspect Legions were subdued, arrested and taken away to be imprisoned inside the most feared Imperial prison on all of Terra, which had been created to hold the worst war criminals of the Unification Wars.
The Crusader Host was taken to the underground, maximum-security prison complex buried deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains that was officially named Khangba Marwu, but was better known as "The Vault." The Vault had been created to hold Mankind's worst criminals. The Emperor had even designed some of its cells himself to hold his worst enemies, including a newly created cell intended ultimately to hold Horus himself. The surviving members of the Crusader Host were placed in cells in Primus Block Alpha-One-Zero where they were the only inmates. Their gaolers consisted of Custodians and elite Imperial Army drop-troops commanded by the Custodian Uttam Udar, who acted as the head gaoler for the entire facility.
During the many months that the Crusader Host were imprisoned inside The Vault, Atharva continued to behave respectfully to his gaolers and did not insult or threaten his guards in any way. Despite his seemingly serene behaviour, Atharva used his psychic abilities to scan and probe his surroundings and the minds of his gaolers. Despite the psy-dampeners built into his cell, Atharva was easily able to reach into the minds of the normal humans that acted as his gaolers though he could not scan the minds of the far more powerful Custodian without detection.
Arrival of Magnus the RedEdit
While the Crusader Host was imprisoned inside The Vault, the Primarch Magnus the Red attempted to contact his father, the Emperor, to warn him about Horus' betrayal and his plans for inevitable insurrection. The Crimson King only learned of these plans after he made contact with Horus in the Warp while the Warmaster lay near-death in the Temple of the Serpent Lodge on the Feral World of Davin. It was there that the Chaos Gods, acting in rare concert, successfully corrupted him by appealing to his ego and his fear that the Emperor intended to betray the ideals of the Great Crusade and declare himself a god. Magnus' attempt ultimately failed and resulted in the Emperor dispatching the Space Wolves Legion to Prospero to return Magnus to Terra in chains. The Emperor was deeply angered by what he saw as Magnus' violation of the Imperial edicts issued at the Council of Nikaea that forbade the use of psychic abilities and sorcery.
Magnus caused untold damage to the Emperor's attempts to open up the Webway to humanity deep within the bowels of the Imperial Palace, destroying the palace vault's protective psychic wards, which allowed Warp entities to launch an incursion into realspace through the Webway portal on Terra. Although weak and easily destroyed, these Warp creatures passed on a vision of the ultimate outcome of the Horus Heresy into the mind of Aniq Sarashina, the Mistress of the Scholastica Psykana, before they were destroyed by Major General Maxim Golovko and his Black Sentinels. This dark vision included the knowledge that a true Imperial victory over Horus and the Forces of Chaos would prove impossible. Instead, the Emperor would be forced to sacrifice His continued leadership of the Imperium in order to prevent Horus from claiming a total victory and damning Mankind to eternal servitude to the Ruinous Powers that would result in the ultimate extinction of the human race.
The cost for this salvation would be terrible -- without the Emperor's active guidance, the Golden Age of the Imperium of Man would come to a tragic end, and be replaced by an age characterised by religious superstition, technological stagnation, ruthless tyranny and endless war. Sarashina was unable to pass this vision on to the Emperor, as the exposure of her mind to the full power of the Warp quickly killed her. Sarashina instead passed the information into the mind of the unsuspecting Astropath Kai Zulane. Zulane was unable to extract the message from his own mind due to his recent inactive time as an Astropath. Because of this, Zulane was taken to The Vault by the Custodians for psychic interrogators to tear the information from his mind.
Although Magnus' attempt to warn the Emperor ultimately proved fatal for both himself and his Legion, it did allow Adept Exemptus Atharva to witness what had happened to Astropath Zulane and to understand that the knowledge inside Zulane's mind was of the utmost importance to the survival of the Imperium. While Atharva analysed this information, Kai Zulane was locked inside a cell within The Vault with two psychic interrogators, Adepts Hiriko and Scharff. Atharva quickly learned of Zulane's location using his psychic abilities. It was at this point that Atharva realised he needed to escape from his cell, rescue Kai Zulane and escape from Terra.
Escape from The VaultEdit
During the crisis that unfolded after Magnus' breach of the Imperial Palace's psychic defences, the Custodians Uttam Udar and Sumat Tirtha were leading a group of elite Storm Troopers from the Uralian Stormlords Regiment to deliver food to the inmates of Primus Block Alpha-One-Zero. The first cell contained the imposing figure of Sergeant Tagore of the World Eaters. Tagore had been away from his Legion for around 100 years and had fought with his Primarch Angron from the very beginning of Angron's involvement in the Great Crusade. Like all World Eaters Astartes, Tagore had received psycho-surgery and the cybernetic neural implants known as the Butcher's Nails that made him vicious and prone to fits of rage and violence. Tagore insulted and threatened his captors, stating his cell would not hold him forever. He held a particularly vicious grudge against the head gaoler, Custodian Udar, and had promised to "...rip his spine out through his chest." The next cell contained Atharva who continued to resist rising to the goading and sarcasm of his captors, remaining calm and serene. Atharva was in fact reaching into the minds of the Uralian Stormlords in an attempt to find a suitable mind to influence, as Atharva was not powerful enough to take actual control over someone's mind.
The mind most suitable to influence was that of Natraj of the Uralian Stormlords. Although loyal to the Emperor and the Imperium, Natraj wished he could leave the service of the Imperial Army to look after his wife and many children. Atharva psychically convinced Natraj into thinking he could leave the Imperial Army by shooting and killing his fellow gaolers. Natraj levelled his Plasma Gun and fired into Custodian Tirtha's stomach, killing him. Custodian Udar quickly despatched Natraj with his Master-Crafted Bolter on the end of his Custodian Spear, but this only instigated a fire-fight with the other Stormlord troops, who Atharva also psychical convinced that Udar was an enemy. While Udar was occupied with defending himself from some of the most lethal and well-trained soldiers of the Imperium, Atharva psychically forced another Uralian Stormlord, Tejas Dozyna, to take the identification ring off the deceased Tirtha and use it to unlock the cell door of one of the prisoners.
Moments after Custodian Udar despatched the remaining Uralian Stormlords, Dozyna opened up a cell door allowing Tagore to walk free, who once again promised to rip out Udar's spine. Tagore and Udar then engaged in a vicious close-combat fight that saw each warrior suffer inhuman amounts of punishment and damage. Despite being separated from his armour and weapons, Tagore easily matched Udar's skill and training with pure barbarity and the savagery induced by his neural implants. While Udar was occupied fending off Tagore's brutal blows, Atharva psychically scanned Primus Block Alpha-One-Zero and determined who of the Crusader Host would be useful for their escape and rescue attempt. Atharva chose those who would be freed and psychically convinced Dozyna to free them. Dozyna freed Severian of the Luna Wolves, Argentus Kiron of the Emperor's Children, Urhu Gythua of the Death Guard, the World Eaters twins, Asubha and Subha, and finally, himself.
Slowly but surely, Tagore began to gain the upper hand in his fight with Udar. Despite being armed and armoured, Udar was unfortunately not able to stand up against the relentless blows of an Astartes further enhanced by Angron's neural implants and psycho-surgery. Udar's death came when his Guardian Spear was broken in half by a powerful strike from the World Eaters sergeant, who used the lapse in the Custodian's defence to punch clean through Udar's armour and chest, ripping out part of his spine, just as he had promised.
Before setting off to rescue Zulane, the Astartes of the Crusader Host stopped to salvage weapons and ammunition from the fallen Stormlords and Custodians. Tagore picked up the top half of Udar's shattered Custodian Spear, Subha took a shard broken from the blade of one of the Custodian Spears, Severian took a large two-handed sword that became a mere gladius in his giant hands and Argentus Kiron took a Plasma Carbine. Atharva, Asubha and Urhu Gythua chose to remain unarmed.
Understanding that they could not escape the huge complex of The Vault with its myriad defences as they were, Atharva reached into the mind of the recently deceased Uttam Udar. Although dead, Udar's brain was still slightly active due to residual bio-electrical activity. Atharva retrieved and committed to memory escape routes, the complex layout, security codes and passwords, gun emplacement locations and the list of security forces and their numbers that served in The Vault. Atharva also learned that some doors and barriers required a retinal and voice command from Udar, so the Thousand Son decapitated Udar, apologising for the desecration as he did so.
Rescuing Kai ZulaneEdit
In another part of The Vault, the Astropath Kai Zulane was constantly subjected to physical and psychic torture at the hands of Adepts Hiriko and Scharff. The torture was starting to take its toll, slowly and painfully withering the astropath's mind and soul. During the final bout of torture, Atharva reached into the mind of Adept Scharff and used all of his power to influence him into letting Zulane go free. This unfortunately was not as easy as influencing the Stormlords as Scharff was a relatively powerful psyker and had been trained in resisting psychic intrusions. Despite Scharff's resistance, Atharva was able to get him to release Zulane and attempt to throttle Hiriko. Hiriko managed to get hold of a hypodermic needle and stab her fellow interrogator in the eye, killing him, but was unable to stop Zulane from escaping as the Space Marines turned up before she could take any other action. It was at this point that the Astartes of the Crusader Host realised that they were outcast now from the Imperium they had once served, and Atharva aptly named them the "Outcast Dead."
With Kai Zulane in tow, the Outcast Dead proceeded to escape from The Vault. Atharva naturally took the role of the band's leader due to his knowledge of the layout of The Vault and the true reason why Zulane had to survive at all costs. During their escape from The Vault, each Astartes' personality and characteristics became apparent to his fellow survivors. Atharva became the natural leader of the group, with his calm and methodical approach to all problems while Tagore managed to keep his obvious bloodlust and violent nature barely suppressed though even he recognised Atharva as the best candidate for command. Asubha and Subha, despite being identical twins, were nothing alike. Subha, dubbed the "butcher," possessed a savage, violent streak; while Asubha was called the "assassin" due to his ability to control his rage and take a tactical approach to problems that was rare in a World Eater. Argentus Kiron and Urhu Gythua formed a close friendship; Gythua earned the nickname "Goliath" due to his size and ability to soak up fire without taking much damage, while Kiron continued the pursuit of perfection and beauty that defined so many of his fellow Emperor's Children. Severian became the loner of the pack, nicknamed the "Wolf" and choosing to fight on his own rather than alongside his brothers.
Shortly after rescuing Zulane, the Outcast Dead came across their first major set of defences, a 2-metre-thick door surrounded by Gun Servitors and ceiling gun emplacements. Upon recognising the Outcast Dead as a threat, all the weapons open fired without warning. Luckily enough, the escapees managed to place themselves flat against the corridor's cell doors which allowed them to take cover from the barrage of automated fire. With a kine-shield protecting him from the laser and solid slug rounds, Atharva slowly made his way forward to the door in front of him. Channelling his considerable psychic power into the decapitated head of Custodian Udar, Atharva managed to deactivate the weapons and open the door by using Udar's voice and retinal print to fool the prison's security scanners.
During their escape from The Vault, the Outcast Dead came across many more defences, from further automated gun emplacements to squads of Imperial Army Storm Troopers. Throughout their escape attempt, each Astartes of the Outcast Dead made use of their particular talents to defeat the opposition. During ambushes set up by the gaolers, Severian struck from the shadows before the trap could be sprung, while Tagore and Asubha pushed back each new assault with ferocious power and savage blood-lust while Subha protected the weak form of Kai Zulane with his own massive bulk. When gunfire filled the corridors, Kiron took down his foes with well-placed headshots from his Plasma Carbine. When the escapees were pinned down by substantial fire, Gythua waded through shots, barricades and men alike, seemingly unharmed no matter how many hits he had to bear. None of The Vault's defences could stand against the group, for Atharva deactivated and opened all doors by psychically activating Udar's head when necessary and making liberal use of his Custodes identification ring.
Fighting their way through numerous guard details, Gun Servitors and fixed defensive emplacements in this manner, the Outcast Dead and Kai Zulane finally made it to the entrance of the Vault, and emerged into the crisp mountain air of Terra for the first time in many months.
Flight Across TerraEdit
The joy of finally escaping from The Vault was soon replaced with the need to evade a large and growing force of Imperial Army troops moving to lock down the prison before the escapees could get very far. Atharva quickly analysed the situation and made clear that the Outcast Dead's only chance of escape was to use a Cargo-9 air-cutter and fly across Terra. Upon boarding the air-cutter, Asubha boldly stated that he could "fly it in his sleep" and true to his word, got the aircraft into the sky just as the first squads of Imperial troops reached the landing area and began to fire.
Once in the air, three Firelance-class Fighters were scrambled to track the air-cutter and shoot it down. Flight Leader Ptelos Requer flew the lead fighter and commanded the sortie aboard the Eastern Light, with his fellow pilots Tobias Moshar and Osirin Falk flying the Promethean Ark and the Twilight's Fade, respectively. The fighters easily caught up with the relatively slow air-cutter, and were soon within missile range. Requer acquired his target first, and just as he prepared to shoot down the unarmed air-cutter, Atharva reached into his mind and psychically directed him to acquire a missile lock on his fellow pilots instead. Although Requer shot down his wingmen, he managed to resist Atharva's psychic control enough to also launch a missile at the air-cutter. Shortly before the missile struck its target, Atharva mentally forced Requer to flying his fighter into the side of a mountain. With one of the air-cutter's wings and its aft section badly damaged by the missile strike, Asubha has no choice but to attempt a crash-landing on the nearest flat piece of land.
With the need to recapture the Outcast Dead and prevent the information in Kai Zulane's mind from falling into the hands of Horus and the Traitor Legions who might use it to ensure their own victory over the Emperor, Yagu Nagasena formed another Hunt Team, composed of Ulis Kartono the Assassin, Imperial Army Major General Maxim Golovko, Adept Hiriko, Custodian Saturnalia and Astropath Athena Diyos, reinforced once more by Golovko's Black Sentinels.
The Petitioner's CityEdit
Asubha managed to crash-land the damaged air-cutter into the Petitioner's City, a huge, ramshackle city built in the shadow of the Imperial Palace intended to house the millions of people who travelled from all over Terra to pass into the Imperial Palace and see the Emperor. With a such huge influx of people to hold, the Imperial Palace could not sustain all the migrants and pilgrims, especially during the time when the Emperor was off-world fighting the Great Crusade. Because of this need, a mega-city had been rapidly built next to the Palace to hold all the immigrants. Built from any and all materials available, as quickly as had been possible, the entire city was an amalgamation of hundreds of different architectural styles and cultural preferences. Lacking any real economic support structure for its residents, the Petitioner's City was a rundown ghetto where most of its inhabitants lived in poverty, waiting for the day that might never come when they were finally called to have an audience with the Emperor of Mankind.The Petitioner's City was ruled by a particularly brutal criminal syndicate called the Dhakal Clan. The members of the Dhakal Clan were powerfully-built thugs who ran the Petitioner's City through a brutal combination of fear and savage violence. Many residents believed that even the warriors of the Legio Custodes refused to venture into the Petitioner's City, so the Dhakal Clan ruled as it willed without any challenge from Imperial law enforcement. The Dhakal Clan was led by its most feared member, the man named Babu Dhakal who was more physically imposing than even an Astartes. There was a reason for the man's unnatural size and preternatural fighting prowess. Babu Dhakal had once been a mighty genetically-engineered superhuman warrior who fought for the Emperor during the Unification Wars under his real name, Arik Taranis.
In truth, Dhakal and his closest warriors were all surviving Thunder Warriors, the genetically-enhanced Imperial troops who had served the Emperor as the predecessors of the Astartes. Unfortunately for Dhakal and his men, their bodies had begun to physically degrade at a rapid rate, as the genetic templates used to create them in the early days of the Unification Wars were flawed and riddled with imperfections. It was these very flaws that had forced the Emperor to begin his work anew to create the perfect superhuman soldiers, work that had ultimately resulted in first the creation of the Primarchs and then the Space Marine Legions in the late 30th Millennium. In one of the darker moments in Imperial history, following the end of the Unification Wars, the Emperor had ordered the Imperial forces to hunt down and slay the remaining Thunder Warriors, as the Emperor believed that having fulfilled their purpose, their genetic imperfections would ultimately make them a threat to the new Imperium their sacrifices had helped to create. When the cull of the Thunder Warriors was completed, the Emperor let the Imperial propaganda machine spread the fabricated story that Arik Taranis and all of the remaining Thunder Warriors had been heroically slain at the final battle of the Unification Wars, the Battle of Mount Ararat.
In truth, Taranis and some of his fellow survivors had fled the cull and been forced into the criminal underground to survive assuming new identities even as their flawed genetic matrixes caused their bodies to begin to deteriorate unlike their long-lived Astartes cousins. Taranis, hiding under the identity of Babu Dhakal, kept his remaining Thunder Warriors safe as the masters of the criminal elite within the Petitioner's City, even as they desperately sought for a way to halt the programmed decay of their bodies. Taranis had become nearly as skilled as any Magos of the Mechanicus in his knowledge of the genetic sciences, and he believed that if he could just get a sample of Astartes DNA, he might be able to reverse-engineer the Emperor's accomplishment and save the lives of the Thunder Warriors before their cellular decay had progressed too far.
Following the crash of the Outcast Dead's air-cutter in the Petitioner's City, Kai Zulane awoke to find, to his great surprise, that he had survived the rough landing. One by one, each member of the Outcast Dead emerged from the air-cutter's wreckage bloody but alive. The only member to not survive serious harm was Gythua, who had been impaled through the back by a piece of the wreckage. After a short debate about whether or not to leave Gythua, the Outcast Dead freed him from the metal spar and set off into the Petitioner's City, carrying the injured form of Gythua between them.
Unfortunately for the fugitive group, their presence within the Petitioner's City did not go unnoticed for very long. Shortly after leaving the wreckage of the air-cutter, Babu Dhakal learned of the fugitives' arrival and sent a group of Dhakal Clan Thunder Warriors after them, led by his right-hand man Ghota. The Custodian Nagasena and his Hunt Team also arrived at the wreckage shortly after the fugitives had already moved on. Astropath Athena Diyos was able to determine which way the Outcast Dead travelled by mentally detecting Zulane's psychic aura and its direction. While Nagasena wished to apprehend the Outcast Dead and imprison them within The Vault once again, Dhakal demanded that Ghota bring him back at least one live Astartes so that he could harvest the warrior's gene-seed and reverse-engineer it to create a new genetic template that was capable of prolonging the Thunder Warriors' lives.
After traversing the maze-like warrens of the Petitioner's City for a short while, the Outcast Dead rested within a rundown, abandoned hab-block. With Severian and Kiron on watch, the remaining Astartes attempted to help the mortally injured Gythua, who was unlikely to survive the injuries he had sustained. At this point, Asubha realised that Nagasena and his Hunt Team are most likely able to see and hear them through a hack into Zulane's optic implants, a common cybernetic enhancement for Astropaths whose psychic abilities often burned out their retinas, leaving the blind. Asubha's knowledge came from his training with his Legion's Techmarines, and he proceeded to rip out Zulane's implants. With Zulane's many injuries, and their resting location probably already compromised by the Custodes hunters, Atharva forced the Outcast Dead to start moving again to find a chirurgeon (physician) who could treat Zulane and Gythua.
The Outcast Dead eventually discovered the house of a chirurgeon named Antioch. After breaking into his house and convincing him that they did not work for the Dhakal Clan, Antioch proceeded to examine Kai Zulane. Antioch treated the wounds around Zulane's eye sockets where Asubha had ripped out his augmetic eyes and then wrapped a bandage around Zulane's head and provided him with painkillers. Despite knowing nothing about Astartes physiology, the Outcast Dead demanded that Antioch examine and aid Gythua. Antioch's diagnosis was that Gythua should not be able to survive the wounds he had already sustained and thus there was nothing he could do for the Death Guard Astartes.
While Antioch examined the rest of the wounded, Severian spotted an approaching group of huge warriors, armed and armoured. He alerted the remaining Outcast Dead of the danger and Antioch informed them of the existence of the criminal Dhakal Clan and how they ruled the Petitioner's City as their own fief. Before long, Ghota and his men were blocking the Outcast Dead's only way out of the chirugeon's residence. Ghota shouted out that all he wanted was the Space Marines and nobody else would be hurt if the Astartes came quietly and willingly. The Outcast Dead had no intention of surrendering themselves into the hands of what they viewed as criminal scum and opened fire on the surrounding Thunder Warriors. Tagore and the twins charged out into the fray, hacking and slashing through the Thunder Warriors who proved to be more of a challenge than the other warriors faced by the Astartes, while Severian moved into the shadows and to begin his preferred hit-and-run attacks. Within Antioch's house, Atharva fired powerful blasts of psychic energy through his hands while protecting Zulane with a psychic kine-shield. Kiron fired blast after blast from his salvaged Imperial Army Plasma Carbine, claiming a kill with each shot.
Shortly after the start of the fire-fight, Argentus Kiron lined up his last shot at the leader of the Thunder Warriors, Ghota. Kiron fired, but Ghota's enhanced reflexes allowed him to simply step aside and dodge the lethal plasma bolt. Ignoring Atharva's warning, Kiron charged forward at Ghota, enraged that he had ruined his perfect kill ratio. Kiron attempted to batter his opponent with his now-useless Plasma Carbine, but it had little effect on the much larger and more heavily armoured Ghota. At the same time, Ghota struggled to land blows on Kiron with his massive Thunder Hammer due to Kiron's agile and fluid movements. While the two genetically-enhanced warriors battled on, the World Eaters and Severian finished off the last of Ghota's Thunder Warriors and looked on in amazement at the melee in front of them, not wanting to intervene and detract from Kiron's honour. Unfortunately for Kiron, Ghota gained the upper-hand when he managed to unbalance the Emperor's Children Astartes and knocked him to the ground. Before Kiron could regain his feet, Ghota swung his Thunder Hammer in an overhead arc and brings it down on Kiron's shoulder-guard with nearly impossible force. The blow shattered Kiron's shoulder and arm and slammed him to the ground in agony.
With Kiron barely alive, Ghota raised his Thunder Hammer to strike a finishing blow but turned to find Gythua standing behind him, grasping the head of the Thunder Hammer to prevent the fatal blow. Despite his considerable strength, Ghota could not break free of the Death Guard Astartes' grip. Gythua made clear that he would not allow the gang member to kill his friend. Ghota realised that the odds were no longer in his favour as the other Outcast Dead closed in on him, so he retreated with a curse and a grunt. As soon as Ghota had fled, Gythua collapsed onto the floor next to the dying Kiron and said that he was not going to let him die without him. Before the remaining Outcast Dead can help, both Orhu Gythua and Argentus Kiron expired from their servere injuries.
Believing that their pursuers amongst Nagasena's Hunt Team would be drawn to the fire-fight, Atharva suggested that the fugitives get moving once more. Tagore declared that he would not leave the bodies of Gythua and Kiron to be scavenged and mutilated and asked the chirugeon Antioch if there was anywhere that the Outcast Dead could take the bodies of their fallen to be cremated. Antioch told them of the Temple of Woe, a large church-like building dedicated to the Lectitio Divinitatus cult where the people of the Petitioner's City went to cremate their dead and pray to the Emperor.
Temple of WoeEdit
The Temple of Woe, like the rest of the Petitioner's City, was built from many different materials and was an amalgamation of different styles of architecture from a wide range of eras and cultures. The Temple of Woe was adorned and surrounded by statues, most of them representing death in some way. The Temple was run and maintained by a man named Pallidas Novandio who acted as the priest of the church with the charitable assistance of the Navigator Roxanne Castana of House Castana, a powerful noble family of the Navis Nobilite.
As the Outcast Dead entered the Temple of Woe, Yasu Nagasena and his Hunt Team arrived at Chirurgeon Antioch's house to find over 30 dead Thunder Warriors. Not wanting any more trouble, Antioch informed Nagasena of the Outcast Dead's location and plans. Despite this help, Major General Golovko executed Antioch for aiding the Traitors.
Upon entering the Temple of Woe, the Outcast Dead were greeted in the same way they were at Antoch's, with hatred and insults due to their resemblance to the warriors of Clan Dhakal. After convincing Novandio and his people that they were not there to harm them, the surviving members of the Outcast Dead took the bodies of Gythua and Kiron to the cremation furnace, declining help and leaving Zulane behind, stating that this was a private matter for Astartes only. As the Space Marines walked away, Kai Zulane was reunited with Roxanne Castana, the only other survivor of a horrific Warp accident aboard the Ultramarines vessel Argo. It was this incident that had left Zulane inactive as an Astropath.
After burning their deceased, the Outcast Dead returned to the main section of the temple. Atharva noticed that Zulane was staring at a particular statue. The statue was an unfinished one with no face that Novandio had named the "Faceless Angel." Due to their psychic abilities, both Zulane and Atharva can see a slight haze surrounding the faceless head of the statue. Atharva comments that it is most likely a trapped Warp creature, but most likely a rather weak one that cannot escape without help.
Outside the Temple of Woe, Nagasena's Hunt Team and the Black Sentinels surrounded the temple and blocked all exits save for the main entrance. Just as Nagasena was about to order the attack, he was informed that two more figures were approaching the temple. Custodian Saturnalia informed Nagasena that he has received orders from the 'highest possible authority' that all within the Temple of Woe are to be killed due to their involvement with the Outcast Dead and for their devotion to the illegal Lectitio Divinitatus cult. Nagasena's Hunt Team had become a "Kill-team."
As the Outcast Dead conversed with the various members of the Temple of Woe, two figures arrived at the entrance to the temple. They were Babu Dhakal and Ghota. As they entered the temple, Atharva was informed that a small shuttle was kept docked to the upper levels of the temple by Novandio, and he commanded Severian to slip away to find and prepare the shuttle.
Realising that another fire-fight with the Outcast Dead would end with similar results, Dhakal tried a different approach -- diplomacy. Dhakal stated that all he wanted was the gene-seed of a single Astartes so that he could stop his and his fellow Thunder Warriors' bodies from rapidly degrading. Dhakal promised no more fighting and no more death, so long as the Outcast Dead complied with his wishes. Before any deal could be made, the Black Sentinels burst into the temple through the entrances and the ceiling. When the Black Sentinels entered the temple, they flung smoke grenades which quickly enveloped the temple in a thick blanket of smoke. As the Black Sentinels killed Astartes, Thunder Warrior and civilians alike, the Outcast Dead and Babu Dhakal fought side-by-side. Due to the thick blanket of smoke, the members of the Outcast Dead were soon separated and Zulane and Castana were left to their own devices.
Zulane and Castana started to stumble and crawl their way across the smoke-filled temple in an attempt to escape. Unfortunately for them, they accidentally stumbled into Nagesena and his psychically blank Assassin, Kartono. Just as Nagasena was about to kill the pair, Sergeant Tagore burst out of the smoke and rammed into Nagasena. This distraction was enough to allow Zulane to make his escape, but not without Kartono pursuing him. As Kortono chased after Zulane, Tagore and Nagasena commenced the unavoidable melee. Nagasena's skill with his sword allowed him to land several blows that left Tagore slashed and bleeding, but the Seer Hunter proved no match for an Astartes, let alone a World Eater in a stimm-enhanced killing spree. Tagore easily battered aside Nagasena's sword and lifted him off the floor by his throat while throttling him one-handed. As Nagasena started to feel his life drain away, there was a blinding flash and Tagore's grip suddenly relaxed. Tagore dropped his enemy and slumped to the floor dead; a huge, gaping wound in his stomach and chest from Major General Golovko's smoking Plasma Gun.
Unaware of their sergeant's death due to the sight and sound dampening smoke, the World Eaters twins, Asubha and Subha, slaughtered their way through scores of Black Sentinels until they came face-to-face with the Custodian Saturnalia. The twins and the Custodian quickly engaged in a vicious combat that claimed all their lives. Saturnalia's training and lifestyle as a Custodian proves to be his advantage as he was capable of holding his own against two Astartes. His superior skill allowed him to inflict many wounds on the twins with his Guardian Spear, but Saturnalia slowly started to tire against the constant barrage of attacks coming from the tireless twins. The twins different styles of fighting overcame the disadvantage they had against one of the Emperor's superhuman praetorians; Subha's brutal and savage style allowed him to find weaknesses in Saturnalia's defences, which Asubha then exploited these openings with his calm and methodical strikes. As he began to lose the advantage in the melee, Saturnalia fired the Master-crafted Bolter on the end of his Guardian Spear into Subha, shredding the World Eater's chest and killing him. This act was Saturnalia's downfall, as it enraged Asubha into an unstoppable fit of violence and revenge. Asubha struck Saturnalia to the floor in his rage and delivered the final blow from his salvaged Guardian Spear. Asubha cleaved Saturnalia's head in two, but as he jumped onto the prone Custodian, Saturnalia raised his spear, which pierced Asubha through the heart. With the Custodian dead, the dying Asubha placed his weapon into the hand of his dead brother and promised that they would walk the "Crimson Path" together.
On the other side of the temple, Kartono caught up with Zulane, only to be blocked by Adept Exemptus Atharva but Atharva was instantly stripped of his psychic powers by Kartono's possession of the Pariah Gene. Atharva allowed Zulane to escape further into the dense smoke as he squared off against Kartono. The Assassin lept into the air, drawing a sword as he did so. Shocked by the Assassin's speed, Atharva barely managed to dodge the attack. Despite his training within the Officio Assassinorum, Kartono was pushed back by Atharva. As he recovered from his injuries, Kartono put on a strange helmet with an eye-like piece positioned on his forehead. Before Atharva could determine what the device was, it started firing black bolts of negative psychic energy into Atharva's chest, draining his psychic powers and bringing him to his knees. With this advantage, Kartono leaped onto Atharva and started raining strikes from his sword into the Thousand Son's chest and stomach. With the last of his powers, Atharva psychically reached out and freed the trapped Warp creature within the Faceless Angel statue.
The Faceless AngelEdit
The Warp creature emerged from its prison and descended upon the survivors of the battle. The Faceless Angel appeared as a floating spectre wearing a black, hooded cloak that cleared away the smoke with its explosive entrance into realspace. The Faceless Angel descended upon the nearest Black Sentinels, killing them with a touch by literally ending their life processes. The Faceless Angel proceeded to glide around the temple killing all it touched, including Pallidus Novandio, who walked willingly into its grasp proclaiming it his saviour in an act of delusion. As the Faceless Angel bore down on Kai Zulane and Roxanne Castana, it screeched and convulsed from an unseen barrage of pain. The Warp creature was cast back into its prison within the Warp as a new group entered the Temple of Woe. Surrounded by a squad of bodyguards drawn from the Sisters of Silence, the Primarch Rogal Dorn had come.
Possessed of the same Pariah Gene as Kartono, the psychic void that surrounded the Sisters of Silence had enveloped the Faceless Angel and cast it back into the Warp. As the Primarch entered the temple, all fighting ended and the surviving Black Sentinels backed off their targets. With his immense master-crafted Bolt Pistol aimed at Atharva, the remaining member of the Outcast Dead, Dorn demanded that the Thousand Son step aside and allow Kai Zulane to be taken prisoner once again. Atharva defiantly refused, only to be shot in the head by Dorn. With the last of the Outcat Dead slain, Dorn ordered the remnants of the Kill-team to fall back and leave Zulane to him. As Nagasena turned to take his leave, he notices that Roxanne Castana stood by Zulane and was slowly unravelling the bandana that covered her Navigators' third eye. With a cry of warning, Nagasena moved towards Zulane, but arrived too late. Kai Zulane looked into his friend's third eye and into the Warp itself, an act which killed him instantly. With Kai Zulane dead and his secret apparently lost to the Imperium forever, Rogal Dorn turned to Seer Hunter Yasu Nagasena and stated that his hunt was not over, for the Luna Wolf Severian was not amongst the dead and had to be found and slain at all costs.
Across the Petitioner's City, Babu Dhakal and Ghota stood within Dhakal's laboratory, as Dhakal triumphantly revealed that he had discovered the genetic secret that would extend the lives of all the remaining Thunder Warriors for centuries.
Known Outcast DeadEdit
- Adept Exemptus Atharva of the Thousand Sons - Killed by Primarch Rogal Dorn
- Sergeant Tagore of the World Eaters - Killed by Imperial Army Major General Maxim Golovko
- Battle-Brother Subha of the World Eaters - Killed by Custodian Saturnalia of the Legio Custodes
- Battle-Brother Asubha of the World Eaters - Killed by Custodian Saturnalia of the Legio Custodes
- Battle-Brother Severian of the Luna Wolves - Alive and suspected to have gone into hiding on Terra
- Battle-Brother Argentus Kiron of the Emperor's Children - Killed by Ghota, a Thunder Warrior
- Battle-Brother Orhu Gythua of the Death Guard - Died as a result of multiple injuries suffered in the course of the Outcast Dead's escape
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill